BJP leadership is looking at the RSS to pick candidates for 2024 Lok Sabha polls in five constituencies of Uttarakhand and
Pranab Mukherjee’s acceptance of the invite of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has left the Congress stunned.
Not pleased with the former president’s decision to attend a graduation event at the headquarters of the organisation in Nagpur on 7 June as the chief guest, a member of the party even wrote to Mukherjee requesting him to reconsider his decision.
Though the rest of the Congress top brass remained mum on the matter, former finance minister P Chidambaram commented on his UPA colleague’s decision on Wednesday.
“Now that he has accepted invitation there is no point debating why he accepted it,” said Chidambaram on Mukherjee’s acceptance.
“More important thing to say is, sir, you have accepted invitation, please go there (Nagpur) and tell them (the RSS) what is wrong with their ideology,” the 72-year-old senior Congress leader said in his message to the 82-year-old Mukherjee.
Chidambaram had in January reportedly confessed that he had “differences” with Mukherjee when the two leaders were ministers in the UPA government.
While Chidambaram handled Home and Finance portfolios at different periods during the 10-year UPA rule, Mukherjee headed the Finance and Defence Ministries at different junctures during the same period.
On Monday, a senior RSS official confirmed that Mukherjee will be attending the graduation ceremony of RSS’s third-year camp for members studying to qualify as pracharaks.
Mukherjee’s decision expectedly came as a shock to many in the anti-BJP front.
The RSS had earlier confirmed that they had sent an invite to Mukherjee, who was associated with the Congress throughout his political career before becoming the 13th President of India on 25 July 2012.
“Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s acceptance to attend RSS event in Nagpur sends a message to the country that on vital issues there should be dialogue, and adversaries are not enemies,” an ANI report quoted RSS leader Rakesh Sinha as saying.
“Questions raised on RSS-Hindutva is being answered by his acceptance of invitation,” he added.
Over 600 workers will participate in the third year Sangha Shiksha Varga (SSV), an event that will be attended by the topmost leaders of the ideological parent of BJP.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shares a very cordial relation with Mukherjee and has on many occasions called the latter a “father figure”.
In July 2017, during the launch of a 340-page photo essay published by The Statesman titled ‘President Pranab Mukherjee – A Statesman’ at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, PM Modi hailed the then president as a great human being and said that there was never a moment in the three years since 2014 when Mukherjee did not treat him like a son.
Mukherjee, too, had tweeted a letter he received from PM on the last day in office. In his tweet, the former president wrote that the letter “touched his heart”.
The 82-year-old Mukherjee demitted the office of President of India on 25 July 2017.